There’s some more exciting news to share regarding our talented students. Saint Stephen’s recently received the Upper School AP (Advanced Placement) scores from the exams taken by 10-12 graders in May 2015. An amazing 98-percent of our students who took at least one AP exam scored a 3, 4 or 5. By comparison, the percentage of Florida students receiving 3, 4 or 5 is 55-percent, and globally, the percentage is 61-percent. Over the past several years, SSES students have consistently scored in the 90th percentiles, but having 98-percent achieve these scores sets a new standard.
Senior Zach Bessette was a unanimous selection as the area’s top high school tennis player, earning 2015 player of the year honors from both the Bradenton Herald and Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bessette, who will play in the fall as a freshman at Amherst (Mass.) College, led the Falcons to a Class 1A state championship. It was the Falcons’ fourth crown overall and first since 2004. A student at SSES since kindergarten, Zach competed as a member of the school’s tennis program since eighth grade, and his career also included a state doubles title with partner Brian Berdusco in 2013. He was the team leader as a senior, posting a 9-1 regular-season record and an undefeated run through regionals. At Amherst, he will join a traditionally strong program that won the Division III national title in 2014.
Please join us in welcoming new Lower School Director Jennifer Helbing to the Saint Stephen’s family. Jennifer comes to campus after spending 15 years at Darlington School, a Pre-K to grade 12 independent school in Rome, Ga. During her tenure at Darlington, she was a classroom teacher in Pre-K, kindergarten and second grade, a learning specialist, Lower School Dean of Students and, most recently, Dean of Students for Pre-K through grade 8. In her various roles, she assisted students with learning differences, launched a faculty team to create performance-based standards and designed curriculum to support those standards, all while overseeing student leadership opportunities and serving on the school’s academic and technology committees. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a master’s in education from Georgia State.
Ground was officially broken on May 14, and construction began in June on the 5,933-square-foot Saint Stephen’s Marine Science Center. The center, which is scheduled to be complete by late fall, includes a wet lab, one outdoor and two indoor classrooms. Primary funding for the $1.5-million project comes from a generous lead gift by the Moore family, with additional contributions from Ken Keating and the estate of Dr. Betty O’Dell. Camlin Homes and Carlson Studio Architecture are the architects on the project. My Green Buildings of Sarasota is the general contractor. The facility will be used by students in all grade levels to enhance the school’s already vibrant marine science initiative. Located directly on the McLewis Bayou with access to the Manatee River and the Gulf of Mexico, Saint Stephen’s offers One Ocean, a customized pre-kindergarten through grade 12 marine science curriculum. Through a partnership with Mote Marine Laboratories, young students at Saint Stephen’s experience field studies tailored to the One Ocean curriculum. Older students explore from the beaches to deep water habitats through hands-on research. Using a kayak fleet, as well as boats provided by Freedom Boat Club, students leave from a dock on the McLewis Bayou to explore nearby aquatic habitats and complete field studies that create a tangible appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the gulf waters.
How about this to put a cap on a great athletic season? The Falcons cracked the Top 10, finishing eighth overall in the 3A Private School classification for the 2014-15 FHSAA Sunshine Cup All-Sports Awards! SSES was 13th in 2013-14. Points are awarded based on a school’s finish in FHSAA State Series competition in each sport in the classification in which it has been assigned. In all sports with team scores, points are awarded as follows: 20 for the state champion, 12 for the state runner-up, nine for the state semifinalists, six for 5th-8th places, and three for 9th-16th places. Schools get a two-point bonus for winning a district or regional championship, and points are deducted for unsporting conduct. Finishes by other Bradenton/Sarasota area schools in 3A: Cardinal Mooney (21st), Out-of-Door Academy (42nd), Bradenton Christian (64th). For a complete list of state rankings, visit: http://www.fhsaa.org/…/a…/2014-15/2014-15_spring_overall.pdf